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Newton Distance S 9 Multiple Tester Review

    The Distance and the Distance S are among the shoes I have always wanted to try, but never had or taken the opportunity. As someone who loves light stability shoes and racing shoes, I am a bit embarrassed that it took me this long to try the Distance S finally at version 9. A slowly narrowing category, this shoe is a unique one in regards to both stability as well as speed. I am excited the Distance S continues its legacy and think it is a great tool worth talking about!


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 7.8 oz (men's size 9), 6.8 oz (women's size 7)
Stack Height:  27 mm / 25 mm
Drop: 2mm
Classification: Mild Stability Lightweight Trainer 


HIGHLIGHTS

     Matt: The Newton Distance S 9 is a light stability lightweight trainer and distance racing shoe that should work well for a athletes looking for a fast and slightly firmer shoe. For those looking for a little more stability up front in a lightweight and fast package, this may be the shoe for you. With a super breathable, comfortable and well draining upper, this shoe works well both for road and triathlon use. A unique fast shoe with more forward stability, the Distance S 9 will work both for fast miles and training miles depending on your preference. 

    David: The Newton Distance S9 is an incredibly airy and nimble shoe that is incredibly fun to run in. The shoe is a lightweight performance shoe that can do a little bit of everything. One unique aspect to the Distance S9 (outside of the Newton lugs) is that this a stability speed shoe. Along the medial aspect the shoe has increased density foam posting along the midfoot into the forefoot for late stage stabilization. This makes the shoe incredibly versatile with terrain and does help with some late run fatigue mechanics for me. A VERY fun shoe to run in. 

FIT

    Matt: The Newton Distance S 9 fits true to size in my normal men's size 10. As Newton is a favorite among triathletes, the upper is very breathable, drains well (ran through a sprinkler for this) and is really comfortable against bare skin. This is one of the few shoes that I have absolutely no hesitation wearing without socks, although still be cautious if you are not used to this. The heel and midfoot fit fairly snug as expected in a uptempo shoe. The forefoot has a little bit more room compared to the rear, but is still normal to snug in width. The mesh in the forefoot stretches very well, so a variety of foot types should be able to use this shoe up front. The tongue is very comfortable and is secured by two minimal soft elastics that do a great job of holding it in place. There is a heel counter in the rear of the shoe, however it is low and padded. I did not have any issues with the heel counter and found the entire fit very comfortable. This shoe does fit a little snugger throughout as expected with a faster shoe, but should stretch for a variety of foot types.

    David: The Newton Distance S9 fits true to size. I am a half size up in Matt's original pair but it still fits me well. The upper is one of the best I have ever put on my feet. It is airy, adaptable, and somehow still reinforced well with overlays that I don't even notice. The construction is very impressive. The lacing locks the foot down well in all regions. There is a semi rigid heel counter padded well, a good midfoot hold, and a toe box with enough room for toe splay. Length and width feels dialed in for a performance shoe (a little more daily trainer feel for me being slightly up in size). Again, an incredible upper. The overlays are strategically placed and thinned out at common flex points which make them hardly noticeable. The heel has a retrocurve to it that takes pressure off the of achilles as well. I think this one might be a 10 on upper. 


RIDE

    Matt: As with all Newton shoes, the Distance S 9 has prominent lugs in the forefoot. The lugs provide a very responsive ride at the front, while the full foot Newtonium cushioning provides some mild cushion at the heel. The ride is on the firmer and more responsive side throughout the length of the shoe. The heel drop is low at 2mm, so those sensitive to low drop should carefully transition into this shoe. The transition is actually pretty smooth no matter where you land as either landing on or transitioning onto the lugs still provides plenty of pop. The sole actually has some flexibility to it, but is most prominent after the lugs. This allows for a very smooth toe off (particularly at higher speeds) and promotes bending of the sole at the correct place! There is a decent and gradual heel bevel present, which combined with the slightly softer foam and design in the rearfoot makes for smooth, albeit low landings given the low stack height and drop.

    David: Similar to all Newton shoes, there are forefoot lugs with a membrane they push off and lever from. In the Distance S9 these lugs feel the most nimble of any of the trainers I have tried so far from Newton. The ride itself does ride on the firm side but still protective enough for training miles for those used to lower profile training shoes. The shoe is definitely responsive, light, and nimble (I am going to use that word a lot). The shoe makes you want to get upright and run smooth and efficiently and pivot off the forefoot lugs. The lug is coupled with some forefoot flexibility and makes for a very smooth toe off. The midfoot and forefoot transition is really smooth and the posting does a good job of helping the transition without being overly present. My main thing with this shoe is the heel. I don't land too hard on my heels anyways, but I do notice some mild soreness after longer mileage in the Distance S9 from the pounding to that region. The transition itself is still pretty smooth, but not the most cushioned in that region. The gradual bevel works well and contributes to a pretty smooth transition. In the Fate I felt turns could be a little awkward at times, but I feel the opposite in the Distance S9. I felt like I could fly through pretty much anything in these shoes. It does have a 2mm drop however, so for responsiveness and the nimble sensation, a runner who decides to train in these should gradually get used to a slightly more "aggressive" shoe. 


SPEED

    Matt: Newton shoes are already fun to pick up the pace in and the Distance S 9 is no different. This is a really fun shoe to run fast in.  The forefoot lugs are very responsive and make getting up onto your toes easy. Combined with an internal plate and a smooth toe off, this shoe will go as fast as you push it. The Distance S 9 excels at faster workouts and tempo runs thanks to the high level of responsiveness and lug design. I have used this shoe for hill repeats, 400m repeats and tempo runs and the Distance S 9 has done very well with all of them. There is enough cushioning for uptempo longer efforts if you get your body used to the slightly firmer ride and lower drop. Experienced runners may be able to use this as a training shoe if they tolerate this type of shoe for mileage. Most people will find this a mild stability workout and racing shoe for 5k to half marathon or beyond if you are used to the drop. For those used to lower drop shoes, this will easily be a racing shoe for marathon distances. Overall this is a fast shoe that can handle a variety of paces, although only those experienced with this shoe will be able to train in it full time or take it to marathon distances.

    David: The Distance S9 is a fun and light shoe that can turn up the pace pretty well when you ask it to. I've taken it through nice long fluid strides and tempos down long roads as well as through some downhill trails with uneven terrain and the shoe loves to sail. I had a little difficulty pushing it at faster 5k to 10k race paces but could see this being a good training companion for the half marathon distance. For me this is a lightweight performance trainer/ training companion. 

STABILITY

    Matt: Newton shoes are very stable whether they are neutral or not thanks to a plate that is included in the sole. The Distance S 9 also has medial posting in the forefoot and midfoot, providing additional mild stability. The post is not aggressive and is integrated very well into the midsole. This does add a little extra firmness in the midfoot and forefoot. The five lug configuration also provides a wider base, which further improves the stability. What the forward stability does well is center the shoe for very nice and efficient toe offs. Running fast in this shoe is really fun because everything feels very comfortably controlled. The stability is mild, but still solid enough to hold things together for long miles.

    David: Dang. The way Newton constructs their shoes is already really stable and fluid from transition points throughout the gait cycle. This one is no different, but improved to be stability specific. It is rare to see a stability shoe this light and responsive. The posting is seamlessly integrated into the midsole and covers the midfoot through the forefoot. It also wraps underneath the plantar aspect of the shoe in the midfoot as well. The posting itself isn't fully rigid and still has some play when pushed, though there is a clear density difference between the two foams. Couple that with the wide 5 lug platform and the shoe feels really well controlled and fluid. I love that this shoe doesn't feel super rigid or locked out just because it is a "stability" shoe, and they created stability in a fun and fluid way. I agree with Matt, the stability is mild, but definitely enough to help out in the longer miles. That's when I notice it the most. I've even taken this guy through some trail and winding conditions it probably wasn't designed for... but held up really well!

DURABILITY

Matt: As a lighter weight running shoe, the outsole durability on the Distance S 9 is not the greatest. I am already seeing extensive wear on the anterior portion of the lugs. The posterior lateral heel is beginning to show wear and I am only at 43 miles. This however is expected with a lighter weight shoe. The midsole and upper though have remained untouched. The upper has zero seams loose, still fits like new and is still very comfortable (no break in required). The midsole has almost no signs of creasing (despite some fast miles in these) and still feels comfortable. So overall decently durable for a lightweight trainer/racer, although I expect a little less than industry standard (300-500 miles) out of these. 

    David: This is probably the weakest category for the Newton Distance S9. It isn't horrible, but nothing spectacular either. Matt destroys shoes of all kinds, but when I got these from him there was some noticeable wear in the posterior lateral heel and some in the lugs. Since I have added about 40 miles to his total there is still a little more wear in the lugs, with not as much in the heel (good thing we tear up different regions in the shoes!). I think you can still expect 250 out of it, which again isn't too bad for a lighter profile performance based shoe. The upper and midsole still holding up like new though!


THOUGHTS AS A DPT

     I appreciate that Newton has moved away from promoting a certain type of footstrike. There is plenty of literature out there to support that injury rates are not different between the different types (Hamil & Gruber 2017). The types of injuries however are different as each one loads different tissues (Anderson et al., 2017). Additionally, there are no differences in efficiency except when you look at sprinting middle distance events (Hayes & Caplan, 2010), which makes sense given that footstrike often changes with speed (Hasegawa et al., 2007).


     What the lugs do provide is a great pivot point and an opportunity for a forefoot cushioning mechanism. Most companies still put most cushioning technologies in the heel, which again is appropriate given the higher percentage of heel first initial contact athletes. What is often forgotten is that the forefoot can still make a hard contact with the ground. For certain athletes, a more protective front part of the shoe may go a long way for the amount of force generated through toe off, sprinting, etc. Newton has been unique in this regard and I hope other companies start thinking a bit more about what happens in regards to protection at the front of the foot. 

 


RECOMMENDATIONS

    Matt: The Newton Distance S 9 is a tool that will fit a unique population of runners. This could be broadened with the addition of some additional heel cushioning like the Kismet (REVIEW) and Fate (REVIEW) have. We know that most of the population are heel strikers and even elite athletes use a variety of footstrikes (Kamser et al., 2013; Larson et al., 2011). So to open this up to a larger population, addressing the heel may be important.

Although I recognize this is a racing shoe, some additional outsole rubber on the heel and at the lugs may be helpful for durability. However this may not be worth it if the expense is heavier weight. 

    David: The Distance S9 is a pretty niched shoe, but for those who like light stability and slightly aggressive performance trainers/ "do it all" shoes, this is going to feel super fun. They did a great job with this shoe and I have minimal recommendations. I fall into the category I feel would enjoy this, but I do think the shoe could benefit from softening up the heel slightly, for I have felt some soreness there with longer miles and repetitive days noticeable specifically with initial contact landing. Other than that the shoe is really fun and makes me really interested in the Distance and Distance Elite. 

CONCLUSION

    Matt: The Newton Distance S 9 is a workout, racing, and lightweight trainer for those who want a lower drop, faster and very stable shoe. The lugs, sole design and lighter weight provide a snappy and fast ride that works well for speed workouts to longer tempo runs. The stability will work well for a variety of people given both the mid/forefoot posting and inherently stable design. Although a little on the firmer side, those experienced with low drop shoes will find a shoe able to handle 5k speed all the way to the marathon. For others, this is a unique training tool for lower extremity strength and exposing the body to something a little different. 

    David: The Newton Distance S9 is a do it all shoe. It can do training, workouts, and for some racing as well. For me it is a shoe that feels best in a smooth fast rhythm and would be nice for the wheel house of a half marathon. The shoe specifically is designed to have that fast, light, nimble, and racing feel with some stability through the midfoot and forefoot. For me this is a really nice training companion. The shoe has a 2mm drop and is definitely a fun ride for those who like low drop shoes. The upper is incredible and feels almost nonexistent. Big fan of the Distance S9 as a light stability "do it all" shoe. As someone who loves neutral fast shoes I am now really interested in the Distance and Distance Elite models as well! 


GRADING

Matt: 
Fit/Upper       10 /10 (Super comfortable with or without socks. Racing style fit)
Ride/Midsole  9 /10 (Smooth for low drop shoe. A little too firm for daily training)
Stability          10 /10 (Highly stable shoe with well integrated posting)
Speed              9.5 /10 (Fast shoe, limited at longer distances except for those used to lower drop)
Durability       7.5 /10 (Early wear on lugs and heel outsole. Upper and midsole solid)

David:
Fit/Upper       10 /10 (Dialed in, incredibly breathable, reinforced just the right amount, elite)
Ride/Midsole  9.5 /10 (Smooth and nimble for low drop, low heel cushioning specifically)
Stability          10 /10 (Light, stable, multidirectional if needed, max for such low profile)
Speed              9.25 /10 (Fast rhythm paces best, like half M for me, shorter efforts a little limited)
Durability       7.75 /10 (Early noticeable wear in heel, some in lugs, upper and midsole fine)


TOTAL: 92.5% (M: 9.2/10, D: 9.3)

TESTER PROFILES

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  He is particular to less cushioned and close to the ground shoes, but can handle a little cushion when he gets beat up. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Thanks for reading!

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Newton Running for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 35-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 43 miles on my pair, 81 miles (David + Matt). Our views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

References
 
1. Anderson, L., Barton, C., & Bonanno, D. (2017). The effect of foot strike pattern during running on biomechanics, injury and performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 20, e54.
 
2. Hamill, J., & Gruber, A. H. (2017). Is changing footstrike pattern beneficial to runners?. Journal of sport and health science, 6(2), 146-153.
 
3. Hasegawa, H., Yamauchi, T., & Kraemer, W. J. (2007). Foot strike patterns of runners at the 15-km point during an elite-level half marathon. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 21(3), 888.
 
4. Hayes, P., & Caplan, N. (2012). Foot strike patterns and ground contact times during high-calibre middle-distance races. Journal of sports sciences, 30(12), 1275-1283.
 
5. Kasmer, M. E., Liu, X. C., Roberts, K. G., & Valadao, J. M. (2013). Foot-strike pattern and performance in a marathon. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 8(3), 286-292.

6. Larson, P., Higgins, E., Kaminski, J., Decker, T., Preble, J., Lyons, D., ... & Normile, A. (2011). Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race. Journal of sports sciences, 29(15), 1665-1673.
 
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